Designing a Pattern: Berets

I’ve been making hats and socks for what seems forever – certainly since high school and college. Both are rather formulaic. Socks are easy enough – if you know how to make socks, you no doubt have your formula, and adapt based on weight of yarn, design elements, and for whom it is being made. Hats are the same – toques, watch caps, berets – all have basic principles, and you move on from there. However, there is a big difference in trying to write down a pattern for someone else to use!

Basic Beret Formula

This is my basic formula for a beret-style hat, and from it have sprung many.

  1. Measure head of intended recipient (if possible). If not possible, I use 18-20 inches for an adult woman, average size (meaning me!).
  2. Figure out the general gauge of yarn in stockinette.
  3. Multiply stitches per inch of yarn, and multiply that number. Example: 6 stitches per inch for a 19 inch head results in 114 stitches.
  4. Determine the ribbing or bottom edging of the hat. If ribbing, I usually will decrease my total cast on so that the hat will be snug, and the stretch of the ribbing will allow for comfort at the same time. If the bottom border of the hat is not in ribbing, I still decrease a bit, but not as much perhaps. A decrease of 1 to 2 inches is normal.
  5. What is the pattern going to consist of after the ribbing or lower edge is completed? If the design has definite elements of obvious knit and purl, I try to work the ribbing into the first row of the pattern, to allow for a smooth transition between the two.
  6. Berets require some expansion from ribbing to the pattern, and this also means increasing stitches. I usually like to increase the number of stitches anywhere from a third more, to doubling, depending on how the pattern knits up. This can be done by increasing stitches in the ribbing or band, as well as moving from smaller to larger needles.
  7. Finally, I knit the hat. As I knit, the hat sort of creates itself, even if I have an idea in mind. Sometimes a hat starts out as slouchy and loose, but the pattern may change that. Or vice versa. Sometimes I consider if I want to block out the hat pattern – easier to see once knitting begins – or not. And take it from there.
  8. Ending the hat is perhaps the most complicated part of the pattern. Where there are decreases, such as SSK or K2TOG, it can be advantageous to the design to K1B. How to incorporate YO can also be a design challenge!

Beret in Design

So, there we have it – a brief outline on designing a beret as I do it. Pretty soon I hope to have a pattern available . . . and let’s see how well it takes off! I have written out the pattern in a rough manner, and have a test knitter in the person of my wonderful mother-in-law, Judy, and hopefully in my friend Donna will be available for the final draft.

Next task: creating a nice publication for the pattern!

Time Flies!

On New Year’s Day I vowed I would not let life get in the way of writing on this blog.  But, like all things, something else seems to get in there, no matter what the good intentions.  Work, life, knitting, classes, whatever.  Mostly it seems that I have been knitting, and reading all about radiation protection and digital radiography.  Writing takes some time – to do it well requires something to write about, and some thoughts about it all.

Here, we are emerging from a short spell of colder weather.  Lows in the 40s with some rain – not enough, but some!  There are clouds in the sky, there is a breeze, and altogether it is lovely weather.  Out in the flower beds, the freesias are coming out – no flowers yet, but the leaves are perky and green.  The roses have been pruned.  The calla lilies are unfurling the first of their blooms.  The windows are open and the songs of the first mockingbirds are to be heard.  Spring in January!  Welcome to California!

From late October of 2008 I really got on a knitting binge.  I finally took the time to explore Ravelry and look through Knitty, both sites which I really enjoy.  I also decided to make something for everyone, mostly little things, but also designed a sweater-sweatshirt for our nephew who is 16 months or so now.  Some items I designed, others I found and used patterns.  I made hats and mitts and a pair of socks or two.  So, to keep it brief, I am including some snaps of things made . . . .

Rose Red 2

Rose Red

Rose Red Detail 2

Rose Red in White

This was a pattern I really enjoyed knitting up.  The designer is a young woman from Scotland, Ysolda Teague, and you can purchase the pattern through Ravelry or her website.  There are links to her on the sidebar.  Above are my pictures of the finished hat.

Another pattern which I enjoyed I also bought from Ravelry.  This is the Tretta hat by Grumperina – great design, and I learned a few new things, such as the fact that there are right-slanting and left-slanting make-one increases!  Just goes to show there are new things under the sun!

Tretta in Pink

Like a lot of knitters, I have piles of stash . . . boxes of stash . . .  this is made out of Lamb’s Pride by Brown Sheep, in a bright, warm pink.

Pink Hat  2

Pink Hat Detail

Pink Hat

The beauty of this hat is its design. The pattern is very closed up when it is not on a head – but once on, it is stretchy and elastic, and fits very nicely!

Dashing Mitts

Moving on to another present, I made the Dashing mitts by Cheryl Niamath. This pattern can be found on Knitty. They are really easy to make and a lot of fun!


And finally, another hat.


Woolley Wormhead designs hat. This one is a free pattern which can be found on Ravelry as well. As with Tretta, this one was made with stash, a deep teal (the photo does not do justice to the color) in Lamb’s Pride as well.


Another time, some pictures of my own designs, and a pattern perhaps!

New Year’s Day: Beer and Scones

The first of the year – a day off!  That is always something to enjoy.  So, to celebrate, to feed the “Happy New Beer” beer makers, and to just try something that has been on the back of my mind for a bit, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at making some scones.  I’ve made plenty of scones – I’ve just been meaning to, but never have, created a recipe for ginger oatmeal scones.

Ginger Oatmeal Scones

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

1.5 sticks butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

1/3 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1 T. baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. kefir, buttermilk, or thin yogurt

2 c. whole oats

1 c. chopped candied ginger

Mix together flour, powder, sugar, salt.  Cut in butter with two knives, or with your fingers, until crumbly.  Pour in kefir; stir with fork until just mixed.  Dump in ginger and oatmeal.  Blend together more.  Shape into ball.

Turn out onto floured cutting board.  Knead until smooth.  Shape into ball, cut ball in half.  Reshape each half into a ball, flatten ball with hand, twirl between palms to smooth edges and create a flat, circular disk.  Cut into 6 scones.  Repeat with second ball.

Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they do not burn.

Yield:  12 scones.


Decent recipe – but needs some flavoring.  I was hoping that the sourness of the kefir would be fine, but I don’t think so.  Maybe plain buttermilk would be different.  So, I think I would consider some lemon or orange zest, or perhaps even adding some juice.  Hmmm.

Chopped Ginger
Chopped Ginger

Scone Dough
Scone Dough

Scone Dough - Partially Kneaded
Kneaded Dough

Scones Cut into Sixths 2
Scones, Sliced

Scones - Uncooked
Almost ready to bake!

Scones - Baked on Cookie Sheet
Fresh out of the oven . . .

Scones on Plate
Let’s eat!